It’s alarming to discover that your child has been exposed to watching adult content or pornography. It’s even more shocking to discover that they have been watching it intentionally. There are slews of free adult sites that don’t verify age or have any access requirements. So, even if your child isn’t very tech-savvy, they could easily access the huge variety of X-rated sites that exist online – with a few simple clicks.

Watching Adult Content

Sexual curiosity is a natural part of growing up. However, the portrayal on many adult sites  paints a disturbingly and harmfully skewed version of sexuality that will mislead your child into thinking it’s authentic. Here are five ways to help parents educate their children about adult sites and to address their viewing habits.

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Don’t Use Shame

Saying things like, “I can’t believe you watched this,” will shame them into thinking they are a bad person, instead of someone who made a poor choice. Instead, consider saying something such as, “What have you learned from this experience that may help you make different choices in the future?” This way, you’re focusing on their behaviour, rather than their character.

Let Them Know that Content is Staged

Adult content is staged and isn’t representative of real sex. It’s rife with impersonal sex, instead of the intimacy of a loving couple. Many adult websites glorify degradation and the  exploitation of women. They portray men as dominant, misogynistic figures who can coerce passive women into any sexual situation. They also rarely show anyone using condoms.

This may be the only version of sex that your child has ever encountered. Now’s the time to talk about how these sex acts are devoid of respect, depth, or humanity. It’s a good time to non-judgmentally discuss masturbation, as well.

A BBFC report finds parents are in denial or largely unaware of what their children view online

A recent study, reported in The Guardian, showed that many parents are oblivious of the extent to which their children are watching pornography.

Don’t Punish Them

This may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t take away your son’s phone or computer after you discover them watching adult content. Punishing an addict doesn’t change their behaviour. Your son will simply lie and sneak around to access adult. Instead of learning anything, they will merely resent you and feel like they’re a bad person.

Always educate, instead of blame. Help them come to an understanding that watching adult is unhealthy. Once they grasp this and decide it’s something they don’t want to do, it will also be their decision to stop. They won’t feel as though they are being pressured into making a choice.

Be a Parent, Not a Buddy

Don’t try to buddy-up to your child by telling them that you also looked at adult content as a kid, and you turned out fine. Worse, don’t downplay it by saying that it was “just naked women in magazines.”

Your role is not to be their friend. Your role is to be the parent and educate them about how detrimental it can be to look at videos and content of this nature. In addition, your true confessions will probably embarrass and dismay them, rather than endear them to you.

Be Open to Questions

Show your child that you welcome any and all questions, even if they relate to something very graphic. They may actually want to talk to you about something, but fear they will be punished. Assure them that they won’t be reprimanded, no matter what they ask about the content they have watched. Do not make them feel judged.

It can be appalling and scary to discover that your child is watching adult content online. It’s perfectly normal to be overwhelmed with emotion. However, keep in mind that it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with them about adult content. This will help them develop a healthy, responsible attitude toward sex, as well as help them develop deep, meaningful relationships in the future.

Consider Filtering

You can consider filtering your internet, although we don’t recommend this. Many ISPs allow you to filter adult content. There is also software you can buy for your computer or settings on mobile devices. But this is a band aid at best. It’s almost impossible to stop your children finding adult content if they want to – education is by far the better option.